On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

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Daedalus
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On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Daedalus » May 22nd, 2010, 05:32

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Dames.

Those strange, strange people who are never predictable, wear dresses and are fond of flowers. They certainly have become more abundant in the video games of recent years, haven't they? Indeed, no longer are they restricted to the princess to be rescued in the castle or the trapped damsel in distress, but they have now even assumed the role of heroine, ally, unit, character and even player. The trend of females gaining greater exposure and accessibility in the field has even led to games being specifically designed with women in mind and advertised to women and though women still do not, and may not ever be as large a constituent to the video gaming market as men, this motion continues ever onward.

This shift in representation might be attributed to greater technology, as this has allowed for greater versatility, it may be a result of a change in video gaming, whereby players are more attracted to selection, creativity and choice these days, it may reflect a change in societal values, or it may even be an arm of some sinister egalitarian agenda.

... but we aren't here to discuss that.

A recent discussion with our Umnir resulted in him saying that he isn't overly fond of playing a woman in a game, and this got the old gears in my head spinning and what better place to explore this particular phenomenon than our very Posty?

So let us discuss, Posty participant — what are your general thoughts, habits and feelings on playing as girls in video games and why so? Are there select criteria on which you determine whether or not to play as a female and what are they? Do you limit your female selection to certain genres or specific games? Is there a certain game in which you have a weakness for being a lady in, or in which the male selection is so poor that you do not choose one and why? Do you associate playing as a girl as too feminine for your likes? Perhaps there is even a game which you'd play, but only if it gave you the choice of a male protagonist?

Don't view this list as concrete, please. It's just a template to get your mind in gear and feel free to share any sentiment at all. Nothing is too small or great a comment.

I shall open the floor with discussing my feelings on the matter.

I tend to play a fairly wide variety of games and my selection on this tends to reflect the game and player style. For example, I despise playing a female role in which the character gets into very heavy close range combat, but I tend to have a soft spot for playing a female mage where possible and if it's a first person shooter, I'll only play as a support gunner or sniper. An example of this would be Left 4 Dead above, in which I enjoy playing as Zoey and using the hunting rifle, but I'll definitely rather play as Francis if I'm feeling a desire for some shotgun action. An exception would be Borderlands, where I play as Lilith and have no compunctions against really getting my hands dirty if it calls for it, haha.

In true RPGs, where dialogue is present and such, if I play as a female I'll tend to, of course, roleplay the character and that will certainly affect my decisions in certain situations and result in me not being as aggressive, for example, or seeking out a more diplomatic route than I might've otherwise normally. Obviously in RPGs in which romances are present it's a little challenging to gain a feel for the romance if I'm a female character, but I will sometimes go through these romances purely for enrichment. An example of an RPG in which I greatly favour a male protagonist is Baldur's Gate 2, as there are three romance options available to a male and a paltry one for a female and I don't even particularly like the character who you can romance.

Multiplayer seems to result in me choosing a female more often, as I usually play a support character and select a female based on that decision.

An example of a game in which I hate playing as a female is, of all things, Unreal Tournament. I don't like the female pain sounds and I just can't get a feel for it as a girl. I don't like playing as the girl in Carmageddon either, and I don't like the vehicle she comes with.

That about sums up my general feelings, so let's make it a good one and see what you can come up with, Postmortem brethren. Ella — please feel free to participate, of course, as I'm sure you can add a bit of spice to the thread.

Let's hear it, Posty.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Daedolon » May 22nd, 2010, 09:45

This came a little from behind the tree.

In most games, I generally go with the selection the game makes for me, that is, the only character available to the game as my favourite game genre is first/third person or over the shoulder shooters. But in all seriousness, if it happens to be so that the game allows you to choose the character you will play as, or is a computer role-playing game, my choice of action will largely depend on what direction the game seems to go, for example: If the character's sex is tied to a specific character class, which I personally despise, I choose the class to my liking, usually either a long-ranged sniper class character or a stealth type character, or both. Be it male or female.

But for games that give you more variety of choice, say, Baldur's Gate, my choice is still often tied to the character class, but in another way. I'm quite presumptuous when it comes to choosing a gender with a character class: I never play a female close combat character unless it involves a warlock or another specifically melee skill boosting magic or technology. My CRPG female classes of choice are very often magicians, spokeswomen, archers and very often stealth characters. My male characters of choice are obviously melee ones, although I despise barbarian characters unless a specifically distinct, pre-written character. Mostly with male characters I go with all-around mechanic-melee, mage-swordsman and ranger characters. So my male character choices are a bit different from female ones, but not by that much.

The race of the character often closely relates to whatever gender I choose, as expected. Elves get to be rangers, high/dark elves get to be magicians, dwarves get to be barbarians or mechanics in nature and humans often melee, long ranged or magicians. If the game lets me, I will choose a weakness and a strength for both male and female characters.

Aside from that little rambly bit about RPGs, female leads in games like Mirror's Edge can work very well but it all comes down to the writing. Sadly I feel that the only way that female lead characters can work in pre-written games are if they are vulnerable because a specific disadvantages as well as specific strengths that correlate with the main threats of the game. With male leads, you usually do not care much for the characters as they are very often written either to be silent characters or generic. It's a bit weird but one might even say they can and will relate to the female characters more often as they are more thought out during the game creation process.

In third-person games that have the choice and where it doesn't matter for the output of the character (ie. if the character model/sex is just an visual confirmation and there is no selection of a character class to be made), I will most likely choose a female character since I personally do not want to watch a man's ass for a prolonged period of time. This is also true for even RPGs, if the male selection is dissapointing, I would rather play a beautiful a female lead than a male character that repulses me. I can't really mirror myself unto a revolting character.

My all time favourite female lead role is the racially unambiguous Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. She is very resourceful yet vulnerable, she is determined to protect the weak in her community and she fights for a cause she believes in. It might sound a little cliche but I don't see that type of female characters done very often in video games. She also was blamed for racism as some certain groups couldn't differentiate her between caucasian, hispanic, asian or black people. I couldn't find the specific link but here's one. My main reason for liking her is the quality of the game and how well she fits in the universe they created.
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PS. Yes, you make me write like this.

PPS. I don't like Die Anna either.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Umnir » May 22nd, 2010, 11:47

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
(I've never chosen Die Anna as far as I can remember. After all, you get those classic SONOVABITCH! etc comments with Max)

I have to clarify that the discussion with Matt was about roleplaying games with gender choosing ability. It's just some sort of association problem for me, that I cannot fully live the character, especially with "RPG's" that are all about choosing character that you can associate to.

Jarmo's incapability to view wiggling male ass is interesting, wich I haven't ever experienced myself. First game that comes in mind about watching female booty in action is Max Payne 2 where you can play Mona Sax. By some reason, I've never found much pleasure in watching virtual ass in 3rd person games. Mona Sax is foxy lady of character, but in some way a bit too strongheaded for my taste. Maybe Im just sovinist.

Where it comes to fantasy RPG's and women, maybe Im somehow negatively associated to the players - or some few selected wangstas - who pick some "hot" elven character while creaming in their pants. In RPG's I never play: elven, mage (except possibly druid), female, cleric. I do favor: barbarian (Jarmo!) and rogue, other classes are often "thing of the moment then". But why barbarian? Romantism. Barbarians are the ultimate symbol of freedom, living and fighting with passion (rather than discipline), loving little pleasures of life, campfire, chopping heads off with brutal and crude (but powerfully beautiful) weapons. They carry the pride of strenght and ultimate bravery (and wrecklessness) and the brotherhood of the warriors although often and mostly wandering alone. [insert face here that has sad eyes in tears but smiling]

Rogues in return are the opposite, and their attraction to me is mostly the stealth, cloack and dagger. This however, brings the assholeness of "roleplaying games" that cannot make barbarian a sneaky guy. Where is that written? Or why couldn't rogue be strong as hell?

But I do adore woman characters, but not as playables. I think the best non-playable woman characters I remember are from VtM:Bloodlines.

EDIT: Ah, ofcourse, I do also dig the undead, remember? :D
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Blood of Nightmares » May 22nd, 2010, 16:08

I think the portrayal of women in computer/video games have been slightly improved over the years but there is still reeks of sexism/misogyny that still exists in todays games as well.

Since for example, the damsel in distress plot still exists in some todays games like Devil May Cry 4, the upcoming Splatterhouse game for the PS3/360, Dante's Inferno, and such and other female characters are reduced to sex symbol masturbatory fantasies such as the skimpy armor that female characters from most fantasy themed RPGs/MMORPGs wear, Bayonetta, Also Lara Croft, and such which shows that we still need feminism in todays age due to these issues I stated here.

As for me, I personally like to play as a female character especially in RPG games like Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines (since I always play that Brujah female character with the light leather armor throughout the entire game) since for one well I think it has something to do with the 'final girl' trope that I grew up watching from horror films (Ripley from Alien, Nancy Thompson from the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Susy Bannon from Suspiria, and list goes on) which I feel like interacting as not to mention I just prefer playing as a strong female character...

Of course I think one of best tricks of making a strong female character is to simply gender bend a existing male protagonist character but just keep the same clothes/personality/lines and even the same storyline intact well for example while I need to be extremely careful saying this but gender/sex bend our own Caleb as a woman but keep everything else unchanged (the storyline, Caleb's personality & lines and even the same appearance ...well just imagine a bald burnt faced woman whose face is completely covered in darkness only except her red eyes show and she is wearing the same exact clothes as Caleb).

Of course another thing that bothers me is from all the fan made mod horror games that I'm aware of (like Afraid of Monsters, and such) but they always seem to feature generic male characters as the protagonists which they could have used that opportunity to create a strong female protagonist trying to survive alone fending off anything that comes in her way...

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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by kurt » May 22nd, 2010, 17:35

This is an interesting question which I've never really thought about.

For me it's an issue of game play more then anything. As long as the game itself is enjoyable then the character can actually be anyone. If the game is built around a female character such as Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, or April Ryan from The Longest Journey, then I have no problem in playing as these characters. In a way its sort of like watching a movie with a female lead. I can still enjoy everything about the experience if everything else is well done.

If I'm given a choice whether to play as a male or female, then several things would determine my decision. If the female character were to offer stealth, and the male character were to offer melee, then it would depend on my mood. If there were no actual differences between the characters then I would simply choose the best looking model.

If there is no choice in the game, then I really don't mind watching Lara Croft running and jumping. Cate Archer in NOLF can also be enjoyable to play because the game itself is put together well. If you take away all of the stealth and humor from NOLF then you end up with Contract Jack instead.

I'm not sure I care about BoN's idea of Caleb as a female though. It would be like watching a Sergio Leone movie where The Man with No Name is The Woman with No Name. The character suits the genre perfectly as is, and messing with that would most likely produce some rather ludicrous results. However Blood 2 did have a unique opportunity in presenting Ophelia as a unique playable character. She could have had some distinctly different traits and moves, and been a totally unique and memorable character. But as is often the case, Ophelia was simply a damsel in distress and rather boring as well.

As long as the game is enjoyable to play then it really doesn't matter to me whether the character is a female. But if they were to start talking about fashion and shopping then I think I would have draw the line on what I would tolerate.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Umnir » May 22nd, 2010, 17:44

kurt wrote:In a way its sort of like watching a movie with a female lead. I can still enjoy everything about the experience if everything else is well done.
Yes, this is very well put and I agree.

Ah yes, speaking of foxy ladies, Cate Archer is truly indeed FOXY LADY! I haven't played the game but I've always liked her just by looking at her. Groovy baby yeah!

Kind of like Foxy Cleopatra.

Mmm.. mmm.. mmm.. [tilts head]
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Imoen » May 22nd, 2010, 18:16

Heya, it's me, Imoen!

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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Ella » May 22nd, 2010, 18:34

In a reversal sense, the game with a male role doesn't deteriorate when played by a woman (at least not in my case). Being assigned a female role can either have an intimidating or insulting effect with woman players, especially if the portrayal of the female lead doesn't reflect that correctly of a female personality, only to suit a male player. Or, a respectable representation with appropriate stature. The only time i've really felt at home with playing a female role within a game would be titles like Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Project Zero, and Timesplitters (mostly due to the equality of stats between both genders in the game itself).

When i'm assigned a male role in some games (GTA, Manhunt, The Warriors, and Duke Nukem, to name a few), there's a greater sense of brutality and lack of moral judgement, as in most cases it's a falsely modelled male with no sense of fear and is indifferent to those he encounters. I can only assume this was intended to represent the perfect male attitude, a 'careless' and 'my way or the high way' type of personality. In this sense it makes the game perform appropriately by unrealistic standards, sure, but when it comes down to it, males don't give off this attitude in real life, not by what i've seen and examined. The same can be said for Lara Croft, she is a woman with unrealistic athletic abilities, unbelievable strength and is both incredibly smart and brutal, something that can be either intimidating, or role model material depending on the audience. I personally don't mind her, but it took time for me to understand any appropriateness in her overall design, and from the get go it was clear, the target audience would initially be for men, because she was meant to display the 'perfect woman' of course.

I would write more, but i'm not sure on what more i can say, so i'll conclude here by saying that, as long as the assigned role of either male or female can justify the game itself, be that of gameplay, theme, and quality, then i wouldn't have any significant issues in undergoing an inaccurate role/personality, be that male or female. As long as the game provides me the right balance needed to keep me playing, i could care less.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by morhlis » May 22nd, 2010, 18:34

I don't really think about it. I usually don't play many games where playing female roles is an option. But if I play one in which I think the female character models look better than the male, or if the female characters have better stats, I sometimes choose the female roles over the male ones. But it isn't a conscious decision for me. The female characters I have played are always a treat though. MY favorite would probably have to be Alexandra Roivas from Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. That game hit a perfect score for me on every level. It baffles me constantly that there has been no sequel forthcoming. And then of course there's Princess Peach...wait...I didn't say that...Ignore me!! :runhide:
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Blood of Nightmares » May 22nd, 2010, 19:04

kurt wrote:I'm not sure I care about BoN's idea of Caleb as a female though. It would be like watching a Sergio Leone movie where The Man with No Name is The Woman with No Name. The character suits the genre perfectly as is, and messing with that would most likely produce some rather ludicrous results.
Well I was just giving a example although I don't actually mean what I'm suggesting is legit for some future project.

Well I was originally going to suggest gender bending Harry Mason from the first Silent Hill game into a woman in that post while keeping the same clothes on/personality/lines/storyline intact (which the film version did a epic fail on it) as a tip example of creating a strong female character by building her out from a pre-existing male character as a example stock.

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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Daedolon » May 22nd, 2010, 20:36

Blood of Nightmares wrote:which the film version did a epic fail on it
You're losing a lot of credibility recently.

First of all, the movie has no real connection to the games' storyline and it was the movie's best thing done right, casting a woman for that role. It's easier to see her pain seeing her only child being taken a way, a strong mother's fear for her child is very powerful since you know the character is a strong one, yet she still feels valid fear over her child, even when the girl was "only" adopted. Putting some impromptu, mentally weak character like Harry Mason in the lead role really lowers the sense of reality and fear in the movie. If we have a weak character who doesn't have this honesty about caring for a person, then you can't really feel bad for their situation, unlike with Rose in the movie, which was incredibly well written and thought out.

It's always "fans" of some series going amok like a bunch raging monkeys when something evolves or is changed for the betterment of realism in a movie or a game, without being able to look past the obvious improvements. A true fan is someone who is able to let go some of the things he loves in order to let his loved series to gain a momentum for something bigger around the corner and let loose of his personal belief on what's "right" or "wrong" and be able to caress the true ascension in art.

The first Silent Hill has no true character development on Harry, it's the complete opposite of Rose in the movie who goes through feelings of loss, grief, courage, action and acceptance.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Blood of Nightmares » May 22nd, 2010, 20:44

After reading Daedolon's post I guess I can take back what I said but I what I originally meant when I said "the film did a epic fail on it" was that Harry Mason actually fought while Rose didn't use any weapons (the closest she ever did that she did pick a weapon but dropped it back down) to defend her self and mostly relied on Cybil...not to mention Rose didn't look similar to Harry either (well she could have worn Harry's exact same clothes or similar).

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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Daedolon » May 22nd, 2010, 20:54

It's not trying to be the same character, they took the basic storyline and made a more movie-friendly version out of it, which I think turned out much better than the original game would've ever been on the big screen. If you fail to comprehend this, I wouldn't ever confuse you with a real fan of the series.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by Blood of Nightmares » May 22nd, 2010, 21:22

Daedolon wrote:It's not trying to be the same character, they took the basic storyline and made a more movie-friendly version out of it, which I think turned out much better than the original game would've ever been on the big screen. If you fail to comprehend this, I wouldn't ever confuse you with a real fan of the series.
Ah I get you now...

It's perhaps the same reason that the Wachowski Brothers changed the ending to the "Matrix: The Path of Neo" game where you fight Mega Smith instead of the "Messiah" ending from the film to make it video game compatible...it's also the same thing I usually hear about "books being better than it's film adaption" as if book to films don't translate well because the story was originally designed to be a book not a film...

It's also the same reason that most game to film and vice versa mostly either suck or different as a attempt to successfully port it into that format and it's also the same reason that porting PC games to the consoles is not going to translate well unless with a few alterations...especially the older systems that is.
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Re: On Assuming The Role of the Female In Video Games

Post by morhlis » May 22nd, 2010, 21:32

I think the real reason game-to-movie adaptations don't work is because the game itself is a storytelling medium. The game has already successfully told the story it was designed to tell. The fans of the game want the same story from the game retold, word for word, by actors on the big screen. This just wouldn't work. As I already said the story has been told. Because of this the movie makers just take the game as a very loose base and build up off it. At least Silent Hill followed the premise of the games better than most video game movies I've seen. It could have been told a bit better but the movie was still good. Still, movie to video game adaptations usually do not fare well either in storytelling or acting. Case in point: Super Mario Brothers the Movie...shivers.
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